March 17, 2018

Micromanaging Myself

I feel like I’ve been more productive in the last couple of days than I have in the last couple of months.

To aid in my micro tasking endeavour (and because the lack of sleep has punched even more holes into my already leaky memory) I decided to try a productivity app. It started simple enough – import my chore list and business todo list into one centralized location. And then I remembered I wanted to put new cleaning tablets in the toilets. And, oh, the refrigerators new filter arrived weeks ago. And my list grew and grew and grew. And so did the number of check marks. I added a reoccurring task to return Nicole’s library book every Wednesday since I had forgotten a few times, to pay the daycare bill every Monday, lists of photos I want to take, home improvement projects I want to tackle some day. All my desperate lists are now organized into one, color coded master list. The list is now almost 200 items long, but rather than feel intimidated I’m feeling empowered.

The key for me was to keep tasks short, and easily achievable whenever possible. I’m sure there’s research on how short is best, but for me I try and target under 5 minutes. If that means a separate task for whipping off the counters in each bathroom, so be it. This isn’t always possible, especially for business related tasks where I don’t yet know all the intermediate steps. I add tasks for anything I need help remembering, or motivation to do. I’m the kind of person that once a doctors appointment is scheduled I ted keep it, but I rarely find time to schedule that appointment. So I make the task for the mentally “hard” part: scheduling, and not the physical “hard” part: going.

This also means being liberal with quantifying “tasks.” If it’s something I’ve made a mental note of, but have somehow not managed to do during the day day, I add it as a task, no matter how small. One of my tasks was to hang a photo over the mantel. After getting it up I noticed it still had some fibers from the packing styrofoam. I needed to dust it off, but the duster was in the garage and the kids were outside calling for me so I figured I’d do it later. I must have walked past that picture half a dozen times, each time thinking “I really need to deal with that styrofoam.” Making a checkbox for it was the extra little motivation I needed to just do it.

Two features that have been helping? Filters and labels. I have labels for “quick” tasks, for days I’m running behind on my daily target and need to knock out a few more before bed, a label for tasks that can’t be done at night when the kids are sleeping. I then create filter lists so I easily see what I can do from my phone while rocking Dana, or what needs to be done before the kids’ bedtime.

The next big thing for me was the ability to auto schedule anything that needs to reoccur: cleaning, periodic testing of datayze, etc. It’s helping me maintain a tidy baseline so I can avoid the pre-playdate panic mode. Let’s face it, mom of 3 doesn’t need anything else to worry about. Yes, please takes some of the mental load off me.

The app I’m using is Todoist for the curious.

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